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Category Archives: Clean Water Act

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Washington Department of Ecology Intervenes in Lawsuit Seeking to Compel EPA to Adopt Revised Water Quality Standards for Washington

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Not surprisingly, on Tuesday, Ecology intervened in the lawsuit filed in October by a group of environmental organizations seeking to compel EPA to promulgate revised water quality standards for toxics in Washington that integrate a higher fish consumption rate. The motion to intervene is available here. It is opposed by the plaintiffs in this case,… Continue Reading

Breaking: Earthjustice Sues EPA Alleging Failure by EPA to Promulgate Water Quality Criteria for Toxics for Washington State

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Rule Making, Water Quality

With a hat tip to Josh Lipsky over at Cascadia Law for being on top of the latest in filings in the Western District of Washington on a Friday afternoon: Earthjustice and other environmental groups filed a complaint against EPA today alleging that EPA has violated Section 303(c)(4) of the Clean Water Act because EPA… Continue Reading

EPA’s Proposed Water Quality Standards Regulations: Implications for Washington State

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

On September 4, 2013, EPA published a notice proposing changes to the federal water quality standards (“WQS”), part of its implementation of the Clean Water Act. The proposed changes fall into six categories (summarized in this trifold): 1) Adding clarity regarding when the EPA Administrator has made a determination under Section 303(c)(4)(B) of the Clean… Continue Reading

EPA Region 10 Enforcement Update: Focus on Source Control and the Duwamish Waterway

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Uncategorized

EPA Region 10 released this press release on Monday, summarizing four recent enforcement actions it has taken under the Clean Water Act. There are some commonalities and differences between the four actions that I think are illustrative of Region 10’s enforcement priorities. First, all four of the entities (Ash Grove Cement Company, Waste Management of… Continue Reading

Fish Consumption Issuing Major Sticking Point in Washington Budget Negotiations

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Rule Making, Water Quality

Erik Smith over at the Washington State Wire just published a great piece on how the fish consumption issue is hanging up budget negotiations in Olympia. This piece, along with Robert McClure’s piece of investigative journalism from a couple months back frame nicely the political component of the fish consumption issue. The current sticking point… Continue Reading

Coal Export Fight Update: Lawsuit Filed, EIS Scope Decided, Politicians Travel to D.C.

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Public Health Policy, Uncategorized

Lots going on with the coal export fight — here is a quick update: Citizen Suit Update: On June 4th–the earliest possible date–the Sierra Club filed suit seeking to enforce the alleged violations of the Clean Water Act detailed in its notice letter sent to BNSF and others back in April. The case is before… Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Serve 60 Day Notice on BNSF, Coal Companies, Alleging Ongoing Violations of the Clean Water Act

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Yesterday, a group of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper and others, sent a 60-day notice letter to Burlington Northern, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Ambre Energy, Cloud Peak Energy, Global Mining Holding Co., FirstEnergy Corporation, and TransAlta USA,  alleging violations of the Clean Water Act related to alleged discharges of coal… Continue Reading

Manufacturers: A New Class of Liability for Cleanup Statutory Schemes?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Emerging Policy, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Most people familiar with state cleanup laws or the federal counterpart, CERCLA, are familiar with four general classes of liable parties: 1) Owners or operators of contaminated facilities; 2) Past owners or operators of facilities at the time of release or disposal of hazardous substances; 3) Parties that arranged for disposal of hazardous substances at… Continue Reading

Washington Introduces First Legislation to Address Ocean Acidification

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Ocean Acidification, Shellfish Industry, Water Quality

Yesterday, Senators Rankin, Litzow, Shin and Kline introduced SB 5547 a bill acting on the recommendations of Governor Gregoire’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. The bill was referred to the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. We’ll see if it makes it out of that committee and comes up for a vote. In a nutshell,… Continue Reading

Washington’s Hazardous Substances Tax Upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Energy Policy

Washington’s Supreme Court issued an opinion today upholding the constitutionality of the hazardous substances tax (“HST”) imposed by the voter-approved Model Toxics Control Act. The HST is imposed by MTCA at a rate of seven tenths of one percent on the first in-state possession of any hazardous substance (including gasoline), calculated on the wholesale value… Continue Reading

Transgenerational Effects of Dioxin in Rats: Implications for Human Health Risk Assessments?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Public Health Policy

Researchers at Washington State have put out an interesting study on dioxin exposure in rats. A good summary of that research is in this week’s online version of Scientific American, and the paper itself is available at PLOS One. In brief, the study showed that great-grandchildren of rats exposed to TCDD (think Agent Orange) exhibited a… Continue Reading

Washington Begins the Process of Updating its Water Quality Criteria for Toxics

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Rule Making, Uncategorized, Water Quality

I’ve written a fair amount on the issue of fish consumption in Washington, including discussions of the technical issues, speculation about possible impacts of this effort, and the appropriateness of addressing persistent bioaccumulative contaminants within this regulatory framework. On September 13th, Ecology announced it is commencing the long-anticipated formal process of updating its water quality… Continue Reading

Washington’s Draft Fish Consumption Guidance V. 2.0: What’s Changed Since October 2011?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Public Health Policy, Rule Making, Water Quality

Ecology released its second draft of its fish consumption rate technical document last week. This updates the first version of the document released last October, which resulted in over 300 public comments from various interested parties. I’ve blogged on various issues related to fish consumption over the past few years, including some general background available… Continue Reading

Will raising default fish consumption rates result in a cleaner environment?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

There is more coverage on Washington’s efforts to revise fish consumption rates in today’s Seattle Times. I’ve shared my thoughts on this issue before, discussing the potential for regulatory gridlock, and reporting on early rumors during the start of this process a couple years ago. To summarize the issues, Ecology is looking to increase the… Continue Reading

Hot environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest: Coal exports, Pebble Mine, derelict vessels

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Shellfish Industry, Water Quality

For those of you that are not up on the hot-button issues in Washington and the Pacific Northwest: Coal exports: Craig Welch at the Seattle Times wrote a good summary on coal export plans in Washington. This is shaping up to be the biggest environmental issue in Washington, and presents many interesting legal and policy… Continue Reading

Sackett v. EPA, the Clean Water Act and Pre-Enforcement Review: Seismic Shift or Minor Tremor?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Water Quality

Every few years, the Supreme Court issues an environmental law decision that results in the internet buzzing over its implications. The latest is Sackett v. EPA, handed down on March 20, 2012. Russell Prugh, Steve Jones and Brad Marten have authored a very detailed summary of the Sackett case, and if you are interested in… Continue Reading

Fish consumption, water quality standards and . . . regulatory gridlock?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Over the past two years, Washington’s Department of Ecology has been working to revise the estimates of daily fish consumption of various populations in the state. When coupled with a risk assessment, these consumption rates dictate what is deemed to be acceptable levels of toxics in surface waters, and, because of food web effects, in… Continue Reading

Ecology to Adjust Water Quality Standards to Consider Tribal Fish Consumption?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

I just ran across this article in the Seattle Times by Cassandra Brooks. What is interesting is that it suggests Ecology is going to revise the standard fish consumption numbers used in setting water quality criteria under its delegated authority pursuant to the Clean Water Act. I’ve checked Ecology’s list of current rulemaking, and all… Continue Reading

Washington’s Department of Ecology Issues Draft Construction Stormwater General Permit for Review and Comment

Posted in Clean Water Act

Yesterday, the Washington Department of Ecology (“Ecology”) released a draft of the new Construction Stormwater General Permit, which will become effective by the end of this year. Because the Construction Stormwater Permit impacts more than 2,000 construction sites in Washington, this new permit will almost certainly receive considerable attention from multiple stakeholders representing a variety… Continue Reading